Collar Group grows from one user to over 90 staff in one year with JobAdder
Establishing and scaling a new recruitment agency is something that Ephram Stephenson, CEO and Founder of Collar Group, knows well. He’s built 12 recruitment businesses across his career and his newest venture, Collar Group, grew from one employee to 90 staff members in just under a year.
We spoke to Ephram about his journey to establish Collar Group and how JobAdder has played a critical role in supporting his agency’s success and strategic, rapid growth.
Setting up for success
Ephram states that over the last few years his first choice in recruitment software has always been JobAdder. “I guess being a serial entrepreneur now with 12 recruitment agencies under my belt, I’ll tell you warts and all how we got here. We used to use another ATS and CRM but over the last five startups, we’ve inherently always chosen to go with JobAdder.”
“And the reason behind that was the simplicity and the functionality of adding and taking off new users. The fact that at that time there was no contract in place. It allowed us to really scale as quickly as we needed to. Today, for example, we’ve had four new starters and to be able to just get them straight into the system is great.”
“Everyone knows who JobAdder is and we just find, from a training, development and mentoring point of view, it just makes it a lot easier for us to utilise the JobAdder platform. The marketplace partners that JobAdder has is certainly heads and shoulders above everybody else.”
Ephram reveals to us that the move to start Collar Group and utilise JobAdder as a foundational pillar of his business were almost simultaneous decisions. “For me, it was just a no-brainer. I mean, the story is that with Collar Group, I was originally the second largest shareholder in another startup, which we use JobAdder for, called Tailored Resources.”
“On the Tuesday, my wife and I found out we were expecting. On the Wednesday, I called the board meeting, gave back my equity and resigned from my position. On my way home in the car, I called JobAdder to set up my account. And on the Thursday, I launched Collar Group. That’s how easy it was. From a speed to market point of view, that’s what JobAdder does really well.”
This speed and ease were crucial to Ephram as he set Collar Group up for success. “You’re able to set an account up, you’re able to get the integrations all sorted and it just works. For me, it’s all about having that support. JobAdder is arguably one of the best for support. I was able to set up a candidate registration form in just a few days, as opposed to a matter of weeks. I was trying to get as compliant as possible.”
“The first two months of me launching Collar Group was just focused on systems, processes, procedures, mobilisation, compliance and how we can automate as much of the process as possible. And JobAdder has allowed us to do that, obviously from a functionality point of view, but also from a compliance point of view and never losing sight of our legal responsibilities when it comes to providing candidates out to a very fast-paced industry.”
“Bear in mind, in the last two years alone, I’ve launched three recruitment startups all under the JobAdder platform. I knew what the implementation time was going to be. I knew what the process was going to be.”
“So the three businesses were Kona & Co which I founded, Tailored Resources which I founded and was the second largest shareholder in, and obviously now Collar Group. One of our biggest competitive advantages as a recruitment startup is all that intellectual property and all that knowledge that we have across all the other startups.”
A staggering growth trajectory
Since implementing JobAdder in September 2021, just days after leaving his last startup, Ephram has grown Collar Group to more than 90 employees in the space of just one year and he says they’re not slowing down anytime soon.
“It’s changing on a daily basis. I mean, we’ve just come out of another interview where we’ve offered two more roles and they’ll be joining the business later in the week. The growth has really come about due to how we’ve set the business up, which is very much that account management model that we’ve gone to market with. We’ve identified some of the largest volume accounts in Australia and we’ve sat down with them and asked them: what are your pain points? What are your issues? What’s working for you? What isn’t working for you in your business? And then we’ve actually built a team around those specific accounts.”
“Of the 90 staff we have currently, 20 of those have worked for me before. Some in four businesses, some in three businesses, some in two, some in one. So, that is definitely one of our biggest competitive advantages where we’ve actually had a number of candidates reach directly out to us: 60-65% of our hires have all come directly to us, as in they’ve reached out to me specifically individually. And then the remainder have actually all come from internal referrals and about 5% have come from rec to rec. So for us, the whole Collar methodology is that if we can get the Collar brand synonymous with excellence for recruiters and we can get our talent attraction model basically down pat, we can create that work-life balance where recruiters want to come and work in our business.”
In addition to internal referrals and a strong employer brand, Collar Group offers attractive incentives to hire the best of the best. “We’ve got arguably one of the best commission structures with no threshold target. So, literally they’re getting paid commission on every single dollar that they invoice. Nobody else is doing that. We also offer additional annual leave, early finishes on a Friday and a holiday shutdown between Christmas and New Year.”
“The fact that we’re ISO accredited inside our first 18 months and we’re a Great Place to Work accredited. We’ve also gone through an accreditation for Investors in People, which is really big in Europe and the Americas. They’ve actually audited 50,000 companies since they’ve launched. They’ve audited Collar Group and we’re the first recruitment agency in the whole of Australia to receive two accreditations with Investors in People. One for investing in our people and one for investing in our wellbeing. That’s some really strong selling points that’s sending that message back to market that we do care about our internal workforce.”
Ephram says another aspect of Collar Group’s rapid growth is how it treats its candidates. “We’ve then focused all our attention on making sure we’re looking after our casual employees. So things like our care packages. Again, I don’t know of any other recruitment agency in Australia that gives their candidates the care package that we do. Bear in mind, working on a mine site, 12 hours a day, seven days a week, it can be really hard on the body. So, we give them things like bamboo socks (as they help the feet breathe and minimises the risk of blisters), lip balm, a band aid kit, face masks, water bottles, stress balls, pillow cases and the best PPE that money can buy.”
“So, it’s not one thing that we can attribute to our growth, it’s across many avenues. One of our biggest unique selling points is the fact that we’re always hiring. Our business motto is we’re always recruiting. Because if that right person presents themselves, then absolutely we will create an opportunity for them.”
Underpinning all of these strategies is the foundational support of the JobAdder ATS and CRM, which Ephram says has allowed them to move quickly and grow rapidly. “I guess it’s just having that support there, isn’t it? It gives us confidence. We’ve got confidence in our CRM that ultimately it’s going to be able to deliver the end results.”
“We’re talking about that speed to market, right? It’s basically, you know, if you’re not first, you’re last. How many times do we hear in recruitment, “Oh, somebody else has beat you to it. They sent through a resume earlier.” So for us, we wanted to make sure that we have a CRM in place that isn’t just a CRM, that it’s something that we can really manipulate and customise. We can tailor-make the whole recruitment strategy, the whole onboarding experience, all in one place and all under one roof.”
Ephram had one example that immediately sprung to mind. “One Monday around noon, we had a new client call us with 180 vacancies. They said, “how many candidates do you have in your database who are relevant for these 180 positions?” We said we’re at about 15. By close of business that Friday, so five working days later, we had filled 83 positions. These 83 positions were all integrated into the JobAdder system and went through the compliance and onboarding with the help of our candidate registration form, confirming everything was true and accurate, checking any medical conditions or workers’ compensation claims. This enables us to scale while also making sure that we’re being as compliant as possible and not cutting any corners. So that is definitely the power of the JobAdder recruitment software and its marketplace partners.”
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The importance of partnerships
The integration partnerships offered within the JobAdder marketplace was absolutely essential for Ephram and his team. “For me, it was more about the marketplace partners. If I go through our list of marketplace partners that now plug into JobAdder, we’ve got our time sheet management through Astute Payroll, the Xero integration, which obviously plugs into Onboarded. We’ve got the Allsorter integration, the Aircall integration, the SEEK integration and the LinkedIn integration.”
“In my previous startups, I was across all the pain points and bottlenecks that we experienced as a fast-growth business. I wanted to make sure that I had all of that streamlined before I really started ramping Collar up.”
“In those first two months, the JobAdder team, as well as its marketplace partners, allowed us to create a brand that’s become synonymous with mobilisation and large-volume recruitment. It was really about making sure that the technology that’s sitting behind the business works in conjunction with JobAdder. So in essence, JobAdder sets the benchmark, and you need to make sure that all the marketplace partners obviously meet that. We’ve been very fortunate to partner with some of these marketplace partners that I’ve had relationships with going back over 10 or 15 years.”
“For me, again, it was a no brainer. The solution works for our business. It works from a fast-growth phase. And also let’s look at the branding, the marketing, the marketplace integrations, being able to post multiple white-label sites, and having more control over your candidate care and your candidate management.”
Mining and managing your database
For Ephram, making the most of Collar Group’s experience and knowledge, not only within his team but also within their database, was a key differentiator. “How many times do you hear a database is only as good as the information that’s put in it? There’s never a truer word said and because of the implementation that we’ve done from day one, we can manage these high-volume requests when they come through and we’ve already got a short list of candidates ready to go for the majority of the roles that we do.”
“I think because we are more of an expert in our chosen field. Yes, Collar is a generalist, shall we say. But the leaders that we’ve got have over 400 years’ worth of recruitment experience collectively. We’ve got 50 years’ worth of Hays experience in our business and over 30 years’ worth of experience at Chandler Macleod in our business. Having all that knowledge and experience from large-volume companies, arguably from leaders in recruitment globally, they may not have used JobAdder before and they come into our business and go, “oh my God, this is incredible, the way you’ve got it set up.” The way the workflows work, the way we can actually get candidates out the other side, the way we’re as compliant as possible and ready to mobilise the site is unheard of. So many other businesses are incorporating Excel spreadsheets, they’ve got their mobilisation spreadsheet, they’ve got the CRM, they might be using two CRMs potentially, so for us it’s about having it all under one roof.”
Another example that Ephram could quickly draw on was from when they were able to place two candidates within the space of only 10 minutes with the help of JobAdder. “Our Director of WA received a job brief and for us, there’s no one person that’s bigger than this business, not even myself. We all lead from the front. We all eat, sleep and breathe recruitment. And for that job brief to come in and our director can jump into JobAdder, go through some of our filters and our hot list of candidates that are available, fulfil both of those roles and have confirmation from the client that they want both of those candidates to start all inside 10 minutes is groundbreaking. I think that’s probably one of our biggest competitive advantages as well when we’re speaking to our clients is our internal database and how we mine and manage the database.”
Mobilising recruitment with the JobAdder mobile app
Another aspect that Ephram raves about is the ability to recruit on the go with the JobAdder mobile app.
“I think from a technology point of view, you guys are leaps and bounds ahead of any competition out there. The JobAdder app is, personally for me, one of the biggest selling points of the platform.”
“Speaking very fast, obviously in a high-pressure job, constantly on the move; to literally have my whole business at my fingertips 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year is arguably one of the biggest competitive advantages I believe that JobAdder brings to the market.”
Ephram understands how quickly the recruitment sector moves and how crucial it is that Collar Group can continue to serve its clients and candidates in a prompt and efficient manner. “We’re only as good as our last placement. JobAdder plays an instrumental part in us being able to deliver the service that we do day-in and day-out to our clients throughout Australia.”
Ease of use and automation impress Collar Group employees
Ephram states that he’s not the only JobAdder fan within Collar Group, his recruiters are also loving the platform. “The actual internal employee experience with JobAdder is phenomenal. Everyone’s buying into it. Everyone loves what it’s doing.”
“Previous CRMs I’ve worked with, they’re great tools and you get the same result every time, but with JobAdder we can actually streamline the process. In essence, it’s literally you just follow the process and you can’t go wrong.”
“Certainly for an out-of-the-box solution, JobAdder would be heads and shoulders above the competition that’s out there. I’ve been in the industry a long time and for me it’s about minimising the amount of support calls you have to make and getting a software that operates effectively. That’s what we’re really all in business to do, right? JobAdder allows us to basically get on and do what we do best, which is recruit and spend the least amount of time as possible having to chase things up. Kudos to the whole entire JobAdder business for everything that you’ve done. I see so much value in the JobAdder platform.”
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